What is it with Weight Loss that nowadays that makes it all confusing? With the endorsement of our “favourite” celebrities, showcasing the “latest” ground-breaking weight loss program on the market.It is no wonder that you are confused as to why you are not shifting those pounds?
Everywhere you look on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram, you are bombarded by “gurus” selling you the “best” weight loss program available to you.
Chiselled physiques and striking poses (thanks Photoshop) of successful trepid adventurers who dared to embark on their quest for the ultimate solution to “ever-lasting” weight loss.
My guess is that you are reading this article because you want to know if there is an easier solution to it all (or because you see past all the BS). Well, the truth is, there is no such thing. Short cuts (especially relating to our health and fitness), inevitably to lead to fall backs.
I am painting a good picture of it all, now aren’t I? Stick with me though. In this article I am going to show you 7 Weight Loss Steps for Effective and Sustainable Results.
So, grab a notebook, sit back and get comfy (get a pillow if you plan on falling asleep) and let us get started.
7 Weight Loss Steps Explained
Step 1 – Performing a Self-Diagnosis
Now let me be clear at this step. If you don’t get it right, you may as well stop here. Everything you do in life is done from the inside out. It starts and ends with you. When I say a self-diagnosis, I mean an honest talk with yourself (I am not referring to medical conditions – these require medical intervention).
Sit yourself down and have a heart-to-heart conversation about why you have got to this point in life.
You Need to Be Honest with Yourself!
You are the only person that can truly answer the questions about your weight. Nobody else is going to embark on this journey but you. Think about who the person is that wants to lose weight (that would be you) and what does this person need to do about it?
If you do not acknowledge yourself and the true reasons why you have go to this point in life, you won’t achieve sustainable weight loss. My blog is about honesty and transparency. Hard work and dedication is what makes the difference. I am a huge advocate of this!
What is your current weight?
Now look at your results and have an honest reflection on how you feel them. Don’t dwell on it, just acknowledge the emotion or feeling it provokes and note that down as well.
Why am I overweight?
Now comes the big question! You need to ask yourself honestly why you have let yourself become overweight. This I am afraid takes a bit of soul searching. Without truly acknowledging why you have become overweight, the path to successful weight loss gets further out of reach.
Read Pillar 1 (Unlocking Yourself) of the 4 Pillars of Success for a more detailed approach to this.
Step 2 – Getting the right knowledge.
Knowledge is power. The more knowledge we have of something, the better at it we become. So how do you obtain this information? I will explain the important things about dieting and what you need to know. Don’t worry, I’ve taken out all the scientific jargon and “sleepy go bye bye” wording.
So what weight loss knowledge do you need to know? I have broken them down for you below.
What is A Diet Exactly?
Has someone ever asked you if you were on a diet, and your response was no? The truth is you are and have always been on a diet. The commercial benefits of marketing campaigns surrounding diets, leads us to believe, that unless we are on a “highly acclaimed” or endorsed diet, we are in fact not actually on one.
A diet is what you eat daily. That is basically it.
Eating bacon and eggs for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch and takeaway for dinner constitutes your daily diet. Albeit a bad one! It is a diet, nevertheless.
So now that we know what a diet is, what can we do about it to change it?
There are several things we can do, but I have listed some important ones below. Once you have gained an understanding of them, it is easier to start making changes towards your weight loss.
What are empty calories?
Empty calories are basically calories that offer no nutritional benefits. Popular to contrary belief, our bodies need calories. Bodybuilders need an inordinate number of calories to develop the muscle size and density they need for their lifestyle.
Athletes need vast amounts of nutritional calories to support their active lifestyles. Everyone needs calories.
Here are some examples of empty calories.
- Sweetened Dairy products – Such as full fat yoghurt, flavoured milks (milkshakes) and creamers.
- Alcoholic Beverages (think Friday night parties)
- Processed Meats – Salami (unless your pushing keto), pepperoni, bacon, hot dogs
- Fried Foods and Takeaways
- Baked Goods – Cakes and tarts, pastries, muffins, desserts, sweetened breads
- Sugar Beverages – Tea and Coffee with sugar in them, sodas, many popular juice drinks
- Snacks – Crackers, crisps, granola bars, candy, sweetened cereals (coco pops)
Reducing empty calories
By reducing your consumption of empty calories, you will start an effective weight loss process. If you look at the list above, think about how many of them you have been including in your diet so far.
Don’t go “cold turkey” and cut everything out. The chances of you maintaining this is incredibly low. Start by reducing your empty calorie intake.
For the first two weeks, reduce your empty calorie intake by 40%, then reduce it by 10% a week until your diet consists of between 5-10% empty calories. Yes, this is low and equates to around a small ice-cream or a pint of beer, but it is important to maintain a healthy diet.
Remember, you may also become symptomatic from the sudden reduction in sugars, such as headaches and fatigue. When this happens, the chances of a relapse become higher.
We all need a treat now and then, so don’t deny yourself a reward for all your hard work. Have an ice cream or beer at the end of the week.
Recent studies have shown that “zero calorie drinks” are not as friendly as we think? Read this article by Robert H Shmerling (MD) on the effects of carbonated drinks. Hint! You may want to stop drinking them 😀
Replace empty calories.
Swap out some of your usual snacks with healthier alternatives. For example, if you are craving sugars, don’t reach for scrips, rather grab an apple. Personally, I love whipping out my “Nutribullet” blender and making myself a smoothie.
Go for easy to reach healthier alternatives to empty calorie-based foods, such as carrots, fruits and small amounts of nuts.
Ensure your diet consists of whole foods, proteins (such as salmon, beef, chicken, and lamb), starch-based foods such as potatoes and corn, vegetables (especially greens) and low amounts of unsaturated fats like olives, avocado and nuts.
Step 3 – Organising your diet
Now that you know a bit more about dieting and what it entails, it is time to organize your diet. Don’t even think about following a crash diet. This is a sure-fire way to actively encourage an unsustainable weight loss journey.
Ensure your diet is balanced with all the essential nutrients your body needs. A doctorate in nutrition is not required for this. Just some basic information to keep you on the right track. Read this article on following a balanced diet.
The important thing to remember with a balanced diet is that you need to give your body the right amounts of everything. There are many things that constitute a balance diet, but I have listed below some of important ones to include.
- Proteins – Meat proteins especially as they are classed as “complete” proteins. Plant based proteins are not complete proteins and there fore require various additions to ensure maximum protein intake efficiency.
- Whole foods
- Un-saturated fats
- Fibre and Carbohydrates
Make changes to suit your lifestyle.
Making changes to your lifestyle is inevitable. These changes will require sacrifice and commitment on your part. You have decided on working towards your weight loss goal, so in order to do this, you will need to change the way you live.
If you wake up at 9am and only eat your first meal at 12pm, you will need to change this. For one, going that long without eating after you wake up is not productive. Your body is hungry and you need to feed it.
Snacking late at night or before bed is also not going to help your weight loss. These snacks are often due to a lack of proper nutrient intake during the day. Give you body the right food, when it needs it and you will be ok.
Your macro requirements for the day will help you get your eating on the right track, but there are some “downsides” to it as a beginner.
Portion sizes are especially important for ensuring you get the right amounts of food at any given time. This is where your macros do come into effect, but as I often tell people, a good rule of thumb for portioning your food, is fist size portions.
Make your hand into a fist and the size of that is what each portion should be. This is also just a guide, but it does give you a little bit of flexibility with controlling your portions over having to weigh them.
TIP: Once you have finished eating and still feel like you can eat more, wait 10 minutes and check again.
This is not about the best place to buy your food (Asda over Sainsburys for example), but about the quality of food in general.
Quality control of your food is of paramount importance. It is going to do you no good, to calculate fist size portions of fried chips, mozzarella sticks (as good as they are) and deep-fried pizza.
You also need to think about the type of diet that you want to follow. There is no such thing as the perfect diet. One diet that works for me, might not work for the next person.
However, with following balanced diets that include your daily essentials is always going to stand you in good stead.
Someone telling you that the South Beach Diet is the best one to follow, or the Paleo Diet is the only one that works, is mistaken.
Each diet has its own merit, but it does not mean that they are the right ones for you.
You are the one that is in control of your life, in control of your emotions and in control of your food. So, make sure that the quality of the food you consume is going to be the right ones for your weight loss journey.
Making smart diet choices
If you have been living a lifestyle dictated by poor dietary choices, then you need to make different choices from now on. It would be easier to tell you to change everything over night, but the truth is that it is a lot harder than that.
Instead of worrying about making massive changes right in the beginning, rather focus on making smarter choices about your food. Instead of picking up a chocolate bar, rather try a frozen fruit bar.
For a sustainable weight loss regimen to be achieved, lifestyle and dietary changes need to be made and adopted as part of your life. However, when you are starting out, I suggest you take it one step at a time.
Don’t’ rush yourself with overnight changes, you will only end up with frustration. Chances of you continuing your weight loss journey become significantly less thereafter.
Keep track of your eating (but be careful of this)
I am a huge advocate of tracking your progress. I always track my progress in all areas of my training and dieting. However, I will say that you do need to err on the side of caution with this. There is always the risk that your tracking and monitoring habits can start to borderline on becoming obsessive.
Keep a diary of the food that you eat. Don’t over think it at all. Simply put down what you have eaten, the quantity of it (don’t weight it – just say what it is), what time you ate it and on what day, and also how you were feeling at the time.
After 7 days, go back to your journal and read it to yourself. Note your emotion and mark that down only. Reflect on that emotion (but don’t dwell on it) and then start another week and repeat the same process. This time think about the choices you are making each time you eat.
Step 4 – Setting yourself realistic targets.
By setting short term targets that are achievable, they all build up towards your ultimate goal of achieving sustainable weight loss.
Set a goal like, “I will make dietary changes to allow me to lose (and keep off) 5% of my body fat in 1 month”. This is a small, yet achievable goal for your weight loss journey.
There are two things that have been achieved with this goal. One of them is losing the weight, and the other is making dietary changes. By focusing on one thing, you are achieving another by proxy.
What is a realistic target?
A realistic target is something that you can meet based on a few factors. For example, if you are new to exercising and dieting, trying to lose 50% of your body fat in under 3 weeks is not a realistic target.
However, aiming to make certain lifestyle changes to lose 5% of your body fat in 1 month is realistic.
Do not try to jump the gun or force yourself to do something you are not experienced enough to do. You inevitably set yourself up for failure and increase the chance of giving up on your weight loss journey.
When do you want to achieve your target?
Ask yourself honestly by which point you would like to have achieved your ultimate target of weight loss. If you are over-weight (and you will have acknowledged this in Step 1), be realistic about when you want to achieve your final goal.
This will give you an indication of whether you are setting a realistic final destination for your weight loss journey.
For a more in depth articles on setting your goals, read Pillar 2 of the 4 Pillars of success – Setting Goals.
Step 5 – The right kind of exercising
Cardio vs HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Cardiovascular training differs somewhat to High Intensity Interval Training and this relates to the increase and decrease in heart rate.
When you are doing cardio training, you are essentially training lung capacity. Once you hit a certain RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), you train your lungs for endurance. Yes you will burn fat, but at a different rate to that of rapidly increasing and decreasing your heart rate. Which is achieved with HIIT workouts.
I do cardio in the morning for lung capacity training. The idea behind this method is that I want to achieve muscle failure before lung failure during my workouts. Not the other way around. If you reach lung failure before muscle failure, you are not training your muscles to their maximum.
Keep up the resistance!
Resistance and strength training are highly effective training methods for two reasons.
- Reason 1 – It allows you an increase in strength, thus resulting in more effective workouts. The more strength your body has, the more you can push yourself during your workouts. This in turn increases muscle density.
- Reason 2 – An increase in muscle mass or density also increases your metabolic rate, thus allowing you to burn fat while at rest. It requires a lot of energy to have muscle, so the body will burn fat to sustain the muscle you have. Ideally you want your ratio to be more muscle than fat. Not the other way around.
Move when you can.
This is especially important for being that are in a more sedentary position during the day. For example, those that are desk bound. We as humans are designed by nature to move around. Sitting for prolonged periods has never been in our genetic makeup as a species.
If sitting is a requirement during your day, make time to get up and move around. Even if it is just walking a few laps around the office or up and down a few flights of stairs.
This movement is good for your heart and triggers your metabolism.
Step 6 – Track and Monitor
Record your workouts
There are many advanced trackers and monitors that you can use to keep on top of your workouts and training metrics. By tracking your progress, you can see briefly how you are progressing and areas in which you need to focus on.
It also allows you to stay motivated and see where there are areas in which you can improve.
Tracking your workouts also gives you a sense of discipline. You are not just aimlessly training and forgetting about it, you are being proactive. This enforces discipline in yourself and will help you stay motivated during your weight loss journey.
Use smart technology.
When I first started training and tracking my progress, it was all done off pen and paper and a series of grids and lines.
However, nowadays with the advancement of technology, everything we need for a good tracking system can be worn on our wrist.
Smart technology allows certain aspects of our workouts to be automatically tracked such as;
- Heart rate
- Sleeping patterns
- Calories Burnt
- Distance Travelled
- Flights of Stairs
These are great to keep track of vital functions of our body throughout the day. Other elements of your weight loss journey require manual input. Such as tracking your workouts, number or sets, weight used and emotions (something I keep a track of as well).
There are also many different apps and tracking software’s out there that allow you to manually input your data and generate reports from them. I build my own system for tracking, but also am a great advocate of spreadsheets. Something about them appeals to me…
These are especially important for analysing your progress. Depending on your preferred frequency, you can generate reports on your data whenever you want and see how you are progressing.
While these types of reports are good and useful, don’t get too hung up on the data. If you are not a competitive athlete, then the metrics should only be used to keep you on the right track.
Remember, you will have weeks where your progress appears to be minimal. Do not let this get into your head. There are many reasons why your progress has been slow. That is why I always make a note of my emotional and mental state every day.
When I look back to a session or number of days that my progress has been slow, I have more information as to why that happened. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep and was feeling fatigued.
This allows me to see that the reduction in progress for a particular day, was not down to a reduction in strength. But rather an inability to perform effectively due to lack of sleep.
Step 7 – Persistence and Determination
This has got to be one of the most important steps in my mind and that is why I have left it for Step 7.
When you are starting out with your weight loss journey, you are going to need to make sacrifices. Especially changing habits, you have spent your life making. I know when I started making changes to my habits, there was constant battles taking place in my head.
Cravings for things I would normally never have craved, started to happen. But it did get easier! Especially when I saw that I was losing weight.
One of the benefits of those that are new to weight loss, or bodybuilding is that they get quicker results than those doing it for a while.
In the gym we call it “newbie gains”. It makes it easier to stick to your objectives when you start seeing results. But you need to stick to it and forge your way through any obstacles that get in your way.
Your results will come if you keep working at it!
Create new habits!
When it comes to habits and the creating and breaking of them, there are many out there that come to mind. Such as;
If waking up in the morning and putting on the tv for an hr is your morning routine, try and change that for getting up and going for a walk. Perhaps you take 3 sugars in your coffee, try changing it for 1 sugar.
But I prefer to make changes to habits that are in my mind. Such as positive thinking habits, rather than always thinking negative. By enforcing positive thoughts in my mind, the chances of me succeeding at breaking bat physical habits are much easier.
The cause of the habit is formed internally, and with the change in the cause, the resulting external factor can be addressed as a result.
Don’t give up!
It really is that simple! Don’t give up. Your weight loss is not just something that you can be proud of from an external perspective, but it is also so important to your health and well-being.
Things are going to get hard (all things in life that are worth it come with hard work), so you need to dig deep into yourself and stay focused on your objectives.
Focus on your objectives!
Once you have established what your objectives are, you need to focus on them. Don’t set them too far that you end up losing sight of them. Start with setting manageable goals and milestones. These will be easier to achieve and will give you motivation to continue with your weight loss journey.
Some useful articles to help you with your journey.
Conclusion on the 7 Steps to Sustainable and Effective Weight Loss
So, we have reached the end of the article. I hope that this has given you a clearer understanding of how you can lose weight effectively by following these 7 steps.
Let us recap on what you have learnt.
Performing a self-diagnosis is important in understanding what you need to do to plan a successful weight loss journey. This requires honesty and accountability on your part. After all it is you that is going to be doing all the work.
Having the right knowledge about weight loss and what it requires of you is paramount to your success. Do not overwhelm yourself with information. There are basics that you need to know and stick to that. You really need to focus on changing your diet for a healthier one and do the right training.
Organizing your diet to suit your weight loss goals and objectives will take some planning and commitment. Do not make sudden and drastic changes. The chances of you sticking to them is slim. Rather focus on making smaller and manageable alternatives to what you are already doing.
Don’t set targets for yourself that are too difficult or excessive. Focus on what you can achieve now and work on that. What you can do now, will develop what you need to do later.
Keeping on top of your goals
The right kind of training is important. Focus on what works, such as strength building (don’t think My Olympia or Beachbody style training) workouts to get your muscle density increased. This will in turn increase your basal metabolic rate (rate at which you burn fat during rest).
Track and monitor your progress so you can reflect on where you have come from and how you are progressing with your weight loss journey. Don’t become obsessive with it but remain objective about it. There are many factors that can influence your progress, so don’t look at “negative” results as failure. Rather how you can work and develop them.
Persistence and determination is what is going to pay off at the end. This will be an ongoing struggle for you, but one that will reap rewards like you have never experienced. Read my 4 Pillars of Success to give you a strong foundation off which to work.
Please feel free to leave your comments below. I would love to hear what experiences you have had, or if there are some things I can add to this article to make it better for you. Share this post with your friends and family if you think they will benefit from it.